Accommodations in Botswana and Namibia
Xakanaxa Camp is in Moremi, along side the Xakanaxa lagoon on the Khwai River of the Okavango Delta. The staff at Xakanaxa Camp was wonderfully friendly, and we very much enjoyed the informal group meals when we could swap stories with the other guests. The camp has a tiny plunge pool for staying cool in the heat of the day.
An elephant fence kept out the these pachyderms, but otherwise other animals were free to wander through camp, including everything from deer and baboons, to a huge hippopotamus which would noisily chomp on grass outside our tent at night. As it turned out, this would be one of only two camps where we were allowed to walk to our tents at night unescorted. (We weren't sure why.)
Nights were spent in semi-permanent "tents" (with attached bathrooms), along the lagoon, from which we could listen to the crazy wooden xylophone sound of thousands of frogs calling to each other.
Savute Safari Lodge is along the banks of the Savuti Channel in western Chobe National Park. As the name implies, this place has a bit less of a "safari" feel than the tented camps, but staff and accommodations were wonderful. Our guide, Kenneth, was fantastic. Meals were informal, served to everyone together as a group. This camp was our first experience with not being allowed to walk unescorted at night — because of lions and other animals wandering through camp in the dark.
The Savuti Channel has been dry since sometime in the 1980s when the land shifted, cutting off the water that used to flow. Now, animals congregate to drink at springs and man-made waterholes, usually fed by pump-driven wells. The Savute Safari Lodge has a series of elephant-packed artificial waterholes in the channel beside the camp, so guests can watch all the action from the safety of camp, only a few hundred yards away. It's very decadent to be swimming in the pool while watching elephants hosing off next door.
We were especially impressed with our guide, Kenneth, who was very knowledgeable and forthcoming in answering all our questions. He was amazing in his ability to spot and interpret tracks, using them to tell us what happened, when, and following them to lead us to lions and other animals.
Xugana Island Lodge, with its water-based safaris in the Okavango Delta, was a nice change for us after so much dryness! Like the previous places we'd stayed, the staff here was also fantastic. The camp itself is right on the water, and is fenced in from elephants, but not hippos. Rooms are rigid structures, not tents. Informal group meals. There's a nice pool.
Activities included motorboat, mokoro, and walking safaris.
Our final camp in Botswana was Kwando Lagoon Camp, a gorgeous location on the Kwando River, in a private reserve near Chobe National Park. We were able to watch families of elephants wallowing and eating in the lagoon next to camp. (We were told they're not always there.) Our safari guides, General and A.T., were excellent. Rooms are tents on the water. Group meals, plunge pool.
Kulala Wilderness Camp was about an hour's drive from the Sossusvlei area and the Namib Dunes. This camp had similar facilities to the Botswana camps we visited, but the staff seemed a bit more disorganized, with no one obviously in charge. We also were disappointed that dinners were served at separate tables, as sit-down multi-course affairs with awkward service, instead of the buffets and group meals we had experienced at other camps. We missed being able to chat and swap stories with the other guests. However, our excellent guide Jonathan was one of our best experiences in this camp. Rooms had canvas sides and thatched roofs.
The Alte Brücke Resort had apartment and camping facilities, and provided a very nice optional breakfast buffet. The location was great — the far south end of town, a block from the beach, and close walking distance to downtown shops. Our apartment was OK — large but somewhat stark and cold. We had some cooking misadventures where turning on more than one appliance (or stovetop burner) would result in blowing fuses!
We spent one of our Etosha nights at Eagle Tented Camp, which is about an hour's drive from Etosha National Park. The camp seemed a little disorganized, seemingly a bit surprised at first by our arrival. The place is very fancy, with separately-seated multi-course table-service meals — which are not really our style, especially when we just want a quick lunch. Eagle Tented Camp also provides various spa-like activities (which we didn't have time for). We were disappointed to learn we couldn't go on the afternoon driving safari because it was "already booked up"! We did manage to get into an after-dinner night safari instead. Our taciturn guide, Hans, was the master of single-word answers to our questions. As the name implies, the rooms are tents.
We enjoyed more our stay at Ongava Main Lodge, which is on a private reserve right next to the Etosha National Park entrance. The camp had its own artificial waterhole, where we could watch lions and rhinos come to drink at night. There was also a "hide" right next to the waterhole for close-up stealth animal watching. We enjoyed our safari experiences with our guide Gabriel. Meals were served at separately-seated tables, but the food was buffet. We were given the "honeymoon suite" because the guests that had originally reserved it wanted to move when the air conditioning broke. We were happy with the switch, since we don't like air conditioning. The room was a rigid structure, not a tent. It could have used a few more opening windows. One nice feature was a second shower outside, with a great view. Ongava also provided night safaris on their private reserve.
Our travel agent here in Seattle, WA was Nadia at Africa Easy. Nadia did a great job of guiding us through the complicated process of deciding on accommodations to meet our schedule and tastes, and arranging for us a great trip despite our starting the whole process a bit on the late side. She was always quick to get back to us with answers to our questions.
- Nadia Eckhardt
- Africa Easy
In Botswana, our travel agent worked with African Pride Tours. We had no direct relations with African Pride Tours, but everything went smoothly.
- African Pride Tours
In Namibia, our travel agent worked with Saskia of Sandy Acre Safaris. Saskia met us in person when we arrived in Namibia. She was very friendly and thorough with her information, answering all our questions, and checked in with us by telephone after a tricky transfer.
- Sandy Acre Safaris